New CubeSat Propulsion System Uses Water as Propellant

Purdue University graduate student Katherine Fowee and postdoctoral research associate Anthony Cofer work on a new micropropulsion system for miniature satellites called CubeSats. (Credit: Purdue University/Erin Easterling)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR)  – A new type of micropropulsion system for miniature satellites called CubeSats uses an innovative design of tiny nozzles that release precise bursts of water vapor to maneuver the spacecraft.

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NASA Studies Tethered CubeSat Mission to Study Lunar Swirls

This artist’s drawing shows how two CubeSats, connected by a miles-long tether, would gather measurements on the moon. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A novel mission concept involving two CubeSats connected by a thin, miles-long tether could help scientists understand how the Moon got its mysterious “tattoos” — swirling patterns of light and dark found at more than 100 locations across the lunar surface.

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Science Payloads Set for Launch Aboard CRS-12 Mission

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 8, 2017 (CASIS PR) The SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle is poised to launch its 12th cargo resupply mission (CRS-12) to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than August 13th, 2017 from Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will carry more than 20 ISS National Laboratory payloads to conduct research across a variety of areas aimed at improving life on Earth, including research on Parkinson’s disease, new anti-bacterial compounds, new approaches to treating blood pressure, and pioneering new advances in the use of stem cells for repairing damage from disease, among many others. Thus far in 2017, the ISS National Lab has sponsored more than 100 separate experiments that have reached the station.

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NASA’s Hubble Sees Martian Moon Orbiting the Red Planet

The sharp eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the tiny moon Phobos during its orbital trek around Mars. Because the moon is so small, it appears star-like in the Hubble pictures.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Over the course of 22 minutes, Hubble took 13 separate exposures, allowing astronomers to create a time-lapse video showing the diminutive moon’s orbital path. The Hubble observations were intended to photograph Mars, and the moon’s cameo appearance was a bonus.

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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is Waaay Too Modest

This enhanced-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was created by citizen scientist Jason Major using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major)

This Thing is Effin’ Awesome, Man! Thanks Juno!

JUPITER ORBIT (NASA PR) — Images of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot reveal a tangle of dark, veinous clouds weaving their way through a massive crimson oval. The JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno mission snapped pics of the most iconic feature of the solar system’s largest planetary inhabitant during its Monday (July 10) flyby. The images of the Great Red Spot were downlinked from the spacecraft’s memory on Tuesday and placed on the mission’s JunoCam website Wednesday morning.

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Plants to Feed This — and Other — Worlds

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson harvests red romaine lettuce on the space station, the first fresh produce grown and eaten in space. The Veggie project, which is ongoing, uses Florikan’s controlled-release fertilizer to nourish the growing plants. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Astronaut ice cream may be an exotic treat for kids, but for real space explorers, a fresh, crunchy salad could sometimes really hit the spot. And the ability to grow food in space will prove crucial for longer-duration voyages envisioned over the next decades.

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Camera on NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Survived 2014 Meteoroid Hit

The first wild back-and-forth line records the moment on October 13, 2014 when the left Narrow Angle Camera’s radiator was struck by a meteoroid. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.

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Coming Soon: CubeSats with Frickin’ Laser Beams

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Laser communications systems have become the next big thing in spacecraft design, promising improved communications. And now NASA is looking to put them on CubeSats.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking sources of compact laser transmitters that could be placed on one of these small satellites for a future technology demonstration space flight mission.

“Goddard is developing a CUBESat spacecraft with science mission payload for a multiple unit CUBESat spacecraft that will generate >1 Gbit/day science data at distances up to 0.5 Astronomical Units (AU). Reference 1 gives a notional CUBESat laser communications system concept,” the center said in the RFI.

“The purpose of this RFI is to solicit specific capability information from industry on master- oscillator power-amplifier (MOPA) laser communication transmitter technologies. This will be used for a cost, schedule and technical assessment to assist with preparing for a possible near-future NASA CUBESat spacecraft technology demonstration,” the RFI adds.

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U.S. National Lab Research Payloads Headed for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) The Orbital ATK Cygnus vehicle launched on its seventh cargo resupply mission (CRS-7) to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V vehicle, carrying more than 40 ISS U.S. National Laboratory sponsored investigations.

The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is chartered to facilitate research in the microgravity environment that benefits life on Earth. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is leading the effort in partnership with NASA, industry, other government organizations, and academia to manage and promote the best use of the ISS National Lab.

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Europa Water Vapor Plumes – More Hubble Evidence

Video Caption: The Hubble Space Telescope has captured even more evidence of water vapor plumes on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The probable plumes appear to be repeating in the same location and correspond with a relatively warm region on Europa’s surface observed by the Galileo spacecraft.

Read more: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/na…

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson

Music Credits: “Street Dancer” by Donn Wilkerson [BMI] and Lance Sumner [BMI]; Killer Tracks BMI; Killer Tracks Production Music

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12585

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NASA Laser Communications to Provide Orion with Faster Connections

The difference in image quality between the Apollo 8 Earthrise image, left, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Earthrise image, right, is due, in part, to the much higher data rate available for LRO’s communications. LEMNOS will provide another order of magnitude improvement over current data rates. (Credits: NASA)

By Ashley Hume
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.

NASA is working to forever change the way astronauts communicate to and from space using an advanced laser communications system called LEMNOS, which will enable exponentially faster connections than ever before.

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NASA Taking First Steps Toward High-speed Space ‘Internet’

Engineers are currently testing the optical module assemblies on the Goddard-built optical test bench to ensure pointing accuracy during the upcoming mission. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Sandra Vilevac)

By Ashley Hume
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Md.

NASA is developing a trailblazing, long-term technology demonstration of what could become the high-speed internet of the sky.

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will help NASA understand the best ways to operate laser communications systems. They could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and Earth, such as scientific data downlink and astronaut communications.

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NASA Team Develops Modular Avionics Systems for Small Spacecraft Missions

Goddard technologist Noosha Haghani holds one of many electronics cards, which she and her team designed for a new avionics system called MUSTANG. MUSTANG has been baselined for two upcoming NASA missions. (Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In just two years’ time, a team of NASA engineers accomplished what some thought impossible: the group created a smaller, more capable “brain” for smaller spacecraft.

Led by Project Manager and Chief Engineer Noosha Haghani, who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the team leveraged years of knowledge gained during the development of NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, to design a significantly smaller electronics system.

Dubbed MUSTANG, short for the Modular Unified Space Technology Avionics for Next Generation missions, the technology acts as the mission’s brain and central nervous system, controlling every function needed to gather scientific data from a Small Explorer-type mission. This includes everything from spacecraft command and data handling to attitude control, power, and propulsion, to name just a few tasks. The team also developed a variation of the system — iMUSTANG — for instrument electronics and, like its sibling, it allows users to choose different capabilities depending on instrument needs.

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Lasers Could Give Space Research its ‘Broadband’ Moment

Several upcoming NASA missions will use lasers to increase data transmission from space. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Amber Jacobson, producer)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Thought your Internet speeds were slow? Try being a space scientist for a day.

The vast distances involved will throttle data rates to a trickle. You’re lucky if a spacecraft can send more than a few megabits per second (Mbps) — a pittance even by dial-up standards.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Earth-Trojan Asteroid Search

This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

GREENBELT, MD (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft begins its search Thursday for an enigmatic class of near-Earth objects known as Earth-Trojan asteroids. OSIRIS-REx, currently on a two-year outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, will spend almost two weeks searching for evidence of these small bodies.

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